NATO Summit on Afghanistan
By: Abdul Maruf Ghiasee
NATO leaders in the alliance’s summit in Wales agreed to continue its long-term support to Afghanistan. NATO officials said that the alliance would continue backing Afghanistan in military, funding, and long-term and strategic support for Afghanistan’s efforts to rid itself of terrorism. However, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen maintained that NATO’s future cooperation with Afghanistan would only be possible if Afghanistan signed the security agreement with the United States. The agreement allows the United States and other NATO member countries to keep thousands of military forces in post-2014 Afghanistan.
NATO leaders once again urged the two presidential candidates to come to an agreement on the formation of a new government. Rasmussen had said earlier that the alliance would have to withdraw from Afghanistan if a president is not elected to sign the bilateral security agreement with the United States. The foreign troop contributor countries in Afghanistan have expressed frustration with the troubled Afghan elections.
The negotiations between Afghanistan and the United States are at a standstill after President Karzai’s refusal to sign the Loya Jirga-backed security agreement with the US. Given the urgency of making a decision for NATO leaders, Afghanistan needs to reconsider its position on postponing the signing of the crucial agreement with the United States. Further delay in signing the security agreement does not seem to be in the best interest of Afghanistan and the government needs to review its policy of defiance against the United States.
President Karzai is refusing to sign the agreement although the Loya Jirga has given the agreement its full support. Before the Jirga had converned, Karzai had said that he would respect decision of the Loya Jirga about the security deal and presence of US forces in Afghanistan. Yet after the endorsement of the security agreement and US post-2014 presence in Afghanistan by the Loya Jirga, he refused to sign and made fresh demands from the United States, including the release detainees from the Guantanamo Bay. The threat by the US to consider a ‘zero option’ and pull all of its troops out of the country was not fulfilled, but neither has it been foregone and remains in place should the Afghan government fail to sign the agreement.
The persistently unsound foreign policy decisions of the Afghan government have had a negative effect on the current policy actions toward the United States. Karzai’s refusal to sign the deal has only the caused the situation to deteriorate further and has endangered Afghanistan’s long-term stability and security. President Karzai’s refusal to a timely signing of the bilateral security deal between Kabul and Washington may become a critical issue for Afghanistan. President Karzai’s delay on signing the agreement simply appears to be an illogical and perhaps self-serving play that could jeopardize Afghanistan’s long-term partnership with the United States.
Abdul Maruf ‘Ghiasee’ is civil society, peace activist – co-founder and editor in chief of The Afghanistan Express Daily